There’s no doubt that homemade tomato sauce is better than the store-bought stuff, but sometimes stirring up a whole pot isn’t realistic for a busy weeknight. Enter DIY canned tomato sauce. Make a big batch of your favorite homemade sauce now and can it for later! We’ll teach you how to do it so you can perk up even your busiest pasta nights.

By Andrea Beck
Updated: August 14, 2018

Making and canning homemade tomato sauce now = saving yourself tons of time later! Plus, when you can tomato sauce in advance, you can take advantage of fresh garden tomatoes and make your sauce even more scrumptious than usual. We’ll show you how to make canned tomato sauce with our basic tomato sauce recipe and share some tips for canning other tomato-base sauces (think ketchup and pizza sauce). One taste and you’ll be hooked on homemade!

You'll Need:

  • 12 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 25 tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt or 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup lightly packed assorted fresh herbs (such as oregano, thyme, parsley, or Italian parsley), chopped
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice

Step 1: Peel the Tomatoes

  • Start with firm, unblemished tomatoes and wash them in cold water.
  • To remove the skins, dip the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skins start to split. Immediately place the tomatoes in cold water.
  • When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and core with a paring knife (or remove the skins with your hands).

Step 2: Chop the Tomatoes

  • Cut the peeled tomatoes into chunks, and add some of the chunks to a food processor. Cover and process until chopped.
  • Transfer the chopped tomatoes to a 7- to 8-quart nonreactive heavy pot.
  • Repeat chopping the remaining tomatoes, in batches, in the food processor. Add all tomatoes to the pot.

Step 3: Make the Sauce

  • Add the brown sugar, salt, vinegar, and black pepper to the tomato mixture. Bring to boiling.
  • Boil steadily, uncovered, for 70 to 80 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to about 11 cups and is your desired sauce consistency. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs.

Step 4: Pack the Jars

  • Spoon 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice into each of six hot, sterilized pint canning jars. Ladle the sauce into jars with lemon juice, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims; adjust lids.

Step 5: Process the Jars

  • Process the filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 35 minutes (start the time when the water returns to a full boil). Remove the jars and cool on wire racks.

How to Can Pasta Sauce

You can certainly top your pasta with our basic tomato sauce above, but you can dress up your sauce a bit more before canning (you can also add more seasonings when you reheat it for dinner!). It’s a slightly more involved process, but roasted garlic gives pasta delicious depth of flavor. You’ll peel and prep the tomatoes the same way, then cook the sauce and fill the jars just like we described above. Even the processing time is the same—just 35 minutes. But because this sauce has a few more ingredients, like roasted garlic and sweet peppers, it’s just a step or two above a basic tomato sauce recipe.

How to Can Pizza Sauce

Want to turn your kitchen into a pizzeria? Making and canning your own pizza sauce is the first step! Unlike our basic tomato sauce, you chop and cook the tomatoes (with roasted garlic and red wine) for about 15 minutes before blending them in your food processor. Once the sauce is smooth and silky, let it cook for 45 to 50 minutes to reduce before ladling it into jars and processing for 35 minutes. Then it’s ready to break out whenever you’ve got a craving for homemade pizza!

How to Can Ketchup

If you want to skip the tomato-peeling process, make and can your own ketchup. All you need to do to prep the tomatoes is stem, core, and quarter them—then they’ll simmer for 15 minutes. Then press the tomato mixture through a food mill, which will take care of all of those pesky skins and seeds. Ketchup needs to cook much longer than other tomato sauces (our recipe cooks for over 2 hours), but it only needs to spend 15 minutes in the canner. Make sure your french fries are ready for dipping!

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